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Back to Entrepreneurial Journey - Mansi Kotak

Mansi Kotak

- Tell us something about yourself

I am a PCOS Health Coach with a background in Integrative Nutrition and Eating Psychology and I use a functional approach (inspired from Ayurveda) to help young girls and women who like me (my story) have PCOS,  get in sync with their cycles and balance their hormones by making changes to their diet and lifestyle and addressing the root cause of their hormonal imbalance.

Over the past four years, I have explored the worlds of Nutrition, Eating Psychology, Ayurveda and Women's Health to create a programme and website for women who struggle with PCOS and don't know what to do about it… I am extremely passionate about providing support and creating meaningful, structured and positive PCOS Awareness through my Youtube Channel and I hope my videos and story will help the many women affected by PCOS blossom into health.

I graduated from Warwick Business School (University of Warwick), and worked in Investment Banking in London for a few years before deciding to take some time off to deal with my poor health from PCOS. This began my journey into the world of Health and Nutrition where I discovered some balance through Ayurveda. This prompted me to study more about Nutrition and I graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition before deciding to travel to India and spending four months learning first-hand whatever I could about Ayurveda. This gave me the tools to work on my own health and find some success managing my own PCOS. I am currently also studying Eating Psychology to understand and learn about more tools to help women with PCOS build a healthy relationship with their bodies and the food they eat.

-  About Your Initative

All this led me to create PCOS Warrior, a website that I wish I had access to when I was struggling with my own PCOS. Apart from creating awareness and providing support, I offer Meal Plans and One-to-One Coching to women who wish to improve their health by understanding the mystery of the menstrual cycle and by working together with them to make better, PCOS-friendly and sustainable  changes to their diet and lifestyle.

As a life-long student of Ayurveda, I also write for Prana & Posana to spread the wonderful wisdom of this intriguing, ancient medical system. I also run an NGO in Kenya called The Rahul Kotak Foundation that helps disadvantaged children in Kisumu with my brother Mohit and some amazing friends. 

- How you came up with this idea to start your initiative

PCOS Warrior was born out of my desire to create a website that I wish I had access to when I was officially diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 18. At the time, there was very little literature available (both online and offline) to help anyone with the disorder understand what PCOS really was, how it affected our bodies and what we could do to effectively reduce the impact of the various, often bothersome symptoms that came with it. As a result, I ended up looking for bits and bobs of information in magazine articles, trying fad diets and extreme exercise regimens that if anything, were detrimental to my health.

- Tell us what PCOS Warrior is all about 

At PCOS Warrior, our main focus lies on the three approaches that will help change how PCOS is viewed over time: Awareness - Coaching - Support.

Through a structured, positive and meaningful awareness Campaign , I'd like to equip women who have PCOS with information that is not as confusing as the current literature available on PCOS. Knowledge is power… and knowing and understanding the disorder that is taking up so much space in your life, is the first step to blossoming into health. This knowledge will  create much needed clarity around PCOS; in understanding what the disorder is, what it does to our bodies and what we can do about it.

For women who need structured help and coaching, I have created different programs that are personalised to meet their needs. Instead of feeling despaired and negative about the ineffective treatments that try to spot treat the symptoms, we focus on the root problem, which is digestive issues and hormonal imbalance. Through proper coaching, changes to your diet and lifestyle I will help you reach your health goals and become the best version of yourself. No, I don't have a magic wand or a magic pill… You really are responsible for your own health and its betterment. I simply play the role of a catalyst who can help you make that change happen.

- Support :

One of the biggest challenges about PCOS is not knowing where to start. Many women often feel isolated (I know I did) especially when what seems to work for others doesn’t seem to work for us. For a long time, I struggled getting past the question: why me? I felt alone, ashamed and alienated from all the women around me. This naturally led to poor body image, lack of self esteem and eventually depression. Through the support of my parents, loving brothers, amazing friends (human and canine) and my Ayurveda practitioner, I was able to find positivity that took me on the path of learning how to love myself and believe that change was possible as long as I was willing to strap my boots and get my hands dirty. When I began talking to people about PCOS, I found that I didn't need to look far for support. In fact I found that many people I knew were struggling with the same problems and that discussing these issues lifted a lot of the shame and negativity I was feeling. Peer support is key to staying positive on your wellness journey. It provides the much needed motivation and accountability that is needed not only for getting onto the wellness path, but staying on it. The support program is a one-stop-shop to start on your PCOS Wellness Journey. It banks on the true healing power of sharing our story and experiences with those going through a similar thing to come out of isolation and stop feeling any fear and shame around our bodies. It is a great platform to understand PCOS and take initial steps to make improvements to our health and lives. 

- How you help the community through PCOS Warrior

My health journey only truly began when I took the time to really understand what PCOS was. And by that I mean, looking beyond the usual list of symptoms, the Rotterdam criteria and the typical "go on the pill, lose some weight" rubric. My introduction to Ayurveda allowed me to do this. Ayurveda's functional approach of looking at health problems meant that I was now dealing with the root of the problem, hormonal imbalance and metabolic issues. I was no longer spot-treating each symptom but looking at the different aspects of my life (my relationships, my career, my eating habits, my lifestyle etc) that were contributing to hormonal imbalance which was causing the many bothersome symptoms. I started to read more about insulin resistance and the endocrine system and the various things that disrupt its function which would then lead to the myriad of symptoms most women with PCOS face.

But this was a long process that spread out over 4 years;  lots of books, many, many articles, several failed self-experiments and a few years spent studying Nutrition later, I finally had a better understanding of my problem and what the best approach to deal with it was.

- How you spread awareness about your initiative

Awareness is one of PCOS Warrior's main goals. And I have made it my personal business to do whatever I can to provide good, structured, grounded-in-science awareness that won't be overwhelming (dealing with PCOS is overwhelming on its own)to anyone who is seeking it. For this reason, I make a PCOS-related video every Thursday and post it on YouTube and Facebook. You can also follow us on other social media platforms here.

- What are the future plans

My main aim for now and the immediate future is to continue making videos (hopefully more frequently) to create positive awareness about PCOS. I feel it is one of the most crucial steps for women who already have and may potentially have PCOS. This will be a good starting point for support groups that will help women with PCOS progress with their health goals.

- What kind of support are you seeking to spread awareness about PCOS and at the same time your initiative

The main support I seek at present is to help spread word about PCOS Warrior to women all around the world. If there are enough women sharing the word about the challenges of having PCOS and how we can work through these challenges via support groups and health coaching, then it will be a huge step in alleviating the shame, victimization and pessimism surrounding PCOS.

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Publised On: Jan 30, 2017

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